Dunblane parents reinforce gun message
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Thursday 16 January 1997
Following the report by Lord Cullen into the Dunblane shootings, the Government put forward proposals to abolish private ownership of handguns except .22 calibre sports weapons. This fell short of the demands by the Dunblane parents and the Snowdrop Appeal for a complete ban, and yesterday a new poster campaign was unveiled in London to ensure that their message continues to be heard.
In advance of tonight's House of Lords debate on the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, the two posters are designed to emphasise that even .22 weapons can kill. One poster carries the slogan "a .22 handgun makes the same size hole as a magnum", over a picture of an open grave. The other shows a picture of the assassinated US presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy, with the message: "If a .22 is less deadly, then why isn't he less dead?"
The fears of the anti-gun organisation, the Gun Control Network, are based, they claim, on what happened after the Hungerford massacre in 1987. As the main organiser of the poster campaign, and given full support by other groups like the Snowdrop petitioners, Gil Marshall-Andrews of the network said: "The Government's new Firearms Bill is already weaker than most people would like. And we have to ensure that it is not weakened further by the Lords."
Dunblane parents Mick North, Martyn Dunn, John Crozier, Jenny Hazel and Less Morton joined a cross-party gathering of MPs to unveil the poster.
Tony Hill, whose daughter Sandra was killed by Michael Ryan at Hungerford, said: "There are nine pages of amendments in the Lords ...
"After Hungerford we thought there would be real changes. But it was eventually watered down. We must try to ensure the Lords do not undermine the Government's plans yet again or there will be repeat tragedy."
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